Wayne Cook
June 1, 2009

This '61 Econoline pickup is owned by Rick Kirk of Ripley, Oklahoma. He's an avid Ford collector and historian. When he bought the truck back in 1969 it was a service vehicle for a plumber. The pickup was painted bright red and it had the back window broken out so that the plumber could haul pipe. The truck was rough but the unusual body style was what Rick had been looking for. Rick was a drag racer back then and the Econoline made for a perfect tow vehicle. He painted it to match his drag car's paint scheme, which was white with blue racing stripes. It was a cool tow rig and soon he began taking the truck to local shows where it generated a lot of interest with its unique body style and 406 Tri-Power FE engine. Then life intervened and the Econoline was parked on the sidelines for 25 years.

In 1998 Kirk and his buddy Dan Jobin dug the truck out from the corner of the garage. Dan is Applications Manager at Kicker Audio of Stillwater, Oklahoma, and now a new chapter in the history of the Econoline began. The vehicle was to become a showcase for Kicker's extensive line of audio and visual equipment. Work on the Econoline project began in earnest to prepare it for unveiling in the Kicker Audio booth at the 2004 SEMA show in Las Vegas, Nevada. On the outside of the truck, paint and bodywork was done by Eric French at Wicked Racing and Customs in Glencoe, Oklahoma. The exterior look is completed by the custom billet 18-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels from Wheel Vintiques with Toyo Proxes rubber.

Traction for the healthy Cobra engine comes in the form of these beefy Toyo Proxes rear tires. Although the cab makes the vehicle look front heavy the mid engine configuration means better weight distribution and thus improved traction.

Replacing the FE 406 is a new 4.6L 32-valve Ford Mustang Cobra engine, complete with a Vortech supercharger. The reworked drivetrain has a TCI C6 transmission and a '96 Lincoln Mark VIII independent rear suspension. The Econoline interior is very impressive and almost entirely custom. Kicker's own Randy Botts fabricated the center-drive seating. Everything from the dash to the speaker enclosures was custom-fabricated by the Kicker Audio team.

Clearly the Econoline has many extreme and interesting features. However, nothing was as fantastic as the audio-video system fabricated by Kicker technicians Toby Lewis, John Myers, Sean Murphy, Randy Botts, and Dan Jobin. In the final analysis, the Econoline now has all of the attributes of a great show and go vehicle. These include the visual appeal of a killer custom paintjob, big power in the form of the blown 32-valve modular engine, and luxury appointments such as air conditioning and the ultimate in audio/visual. We salute both Kicker Audio and Rick Kirk for their extraordinary effort on this elaborate and eclectic Econoline project.

This photo shows the phalanx of power amplifiers installed in an overhead arrangement. Shown outboard of the amps are the Kicker 30-band equalizers. Controls are in the front overhead console situated in the OE rear view mirror location.

The Details
Rick Kirk's '61 Econoline Pickup

Engine

  • 4.6L DOHC 32-valve V-8
  • 281 cubic inches
  • 3.55-inch bore
  • 3.54-inch stroke
  • Built by the Kar Shoppe of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Vortech Supercharger
  • Vortech fuel pump and pressure regulator
  • RC Machine plug wire covers
  • Griffin radiator

Transmission

  • TCI C6 three-speed automatic

Rearend

  • 8.8-inch differential
  • 3.73 gears

Exhaust

  • HPC coated headers
  • Exhaust system custom made by the Kar Shoppe of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Flowmaster mufflers

Suspension

  • Front: Chris Alston Chassis coilover, Air Ride Tech Ridepro e system
  • Rear: '98 Lincoln Mk VIII independent rear suspension, Air Ride Tech Ridepro e system

Brakes

  • Front: Wilwood Dynalite Disc, 12.19-inch rotor
  • Rear: Wilwood Dynalite Disc, 11-inch rotor

Wheels

  • Front: Wheel Vintiques 91 Series Custom Billet, 18x8
  • Rear: Wheel Vintiques 91 Series Custom Billet, 20x10

Tires

  • Front: Toyo Proxes, P235/35ZR18
  • Rear: Toyo Proxes, P275/30ZR20